This past week in Nashville, where he was getting recognized for his Xfinity Series championship season, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver visited with reporters and talked about this past year and expectations for his first full-time season next year on NASCAR’s biggest stage. When a reporter asked who he has leaned on for guidance in the transition, the young driver offered a surprising response.
Ty Gibbs unexpectedly called on for Cup Series duty in 2022
After his first part-time season in 2021, when he won four times, expectations were through the roof for Ty Gibbs coming into the 2022 Xfinity season. He delivered early and often, winning three out of the first seven races.
That exceptionally high rate of success, which eventually resulted in seven total wins and the season championship, showed that the 20-year-old really didn’t have anything to prove in NASCAR’s second-tiered series. While most believed the talented driver would go Cup racing in 2023, he got an unexpected early introduction to the series when he was tabbed to serve as Kurt Busch’s replacement following the veteran driver’s concussion suffered at Pocono in July.
Gibbs ran 15 races for 23XI Racing and scored a single top-10 finish at Michigan.
Gibbs reveals who is helping him most in transition to Cup
Last month, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that the 2022 Xfinity champion would be moving up to the Cup Series in 2023 and driving the No. 54 and not the No. 18 as many expected following the departure of Kyle Busch. During a media session in Nashville last week prior to the awards ceremony, reporters peppered him with a variety of questions about the upcoming season.
“Who’s the driver that you lean on as you come into the Cup Series?” SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Claire B. Lang asked the driver. “Is it like a Denny Hamlin?”
“I feel like all my teammates,” Gibbs said. “I’ve been talking to Tyler Reddick a good bit and just a good bit of people. I’ve been blessed with great people in my situation, so it’s cool to see that. I’ve got great teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing as well.”
What do his comments say about the organization?
Gibbs specifically calling out Reddick and ignoring Hamlin immediately after Lang brought up his name is notable. The 23XI Racing co-owner has worked closely with Gibbs since he debuted with the team as Busch’s substitute.
However, before the season finale at Phoenix, and just days after Gibbs dumped his Xfinity teammate Brandon Jones on the final lap at Martinsville and eliminated him from championship contention, the three-time Daytona 500 winner visited with reporters and made some interesting comments about how JGR drivers work together.
“JD (Gibbs) really instilled a family atmosphere at Joe Gibbs Racing and I just remember it was such a tight family unit and really he made us feel like the guy that drove the 19 or the 20 guy, that’s our brother,” Hamlin said. “We really have to treat them as if they’re our brother and our family. I think at times at JGR we do get – we probably work with each other the least amount of any other team. That’s just the facts. I’m not saying it’s anyone’s fault currently but JD was just different because he really wrapped his arms around everyone.”
In other words, the drivers at JGR aren’t always on the same page and not always willing to help out each other. And that could prove to be challenging for the young driver in 2023 as he tries to navigate his first full-time Cup Series season.